Alternatives Analysis released for East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor project; bus rapid transit and light rail on Van Nuys Boulevard recommended for further study

The project alternatives recommended for more study by Metro staff. Click above to see larger.

The project alternatives recommended for more study by Metro staff. Click above to see larger.

The bus rapid transit alternative recommended for further study for the Eastern San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor. Click above to see larger.

The bus rapid transit alternative recommended for further study for the Eastern San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor. Click above to see larger.

The light rail alternative recommended for further study. Click above to see larger.

The light rail alternative recommended for further study. Click above to see larger.

A bus rapid transit or light rail line along Van Nuys Boulevard are among the options recommended for further study in the Alternative Analysis released today by Metro for the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor project. The study considered more than 30 alternatives for improving transit in the eastern Valley and narrowed them down to six.

On Wednesday, the Metro Board’s Planning Committee will consider contract changes needed to advance the project into its Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Report phase, which is expected to take about a year to complete.

Several very busy Metro bus lines already run in the project’s study area, including the Rapid 761 on Van Nuys Boulevard. The corridor also includes connections to the Metro Orange Line and Metrolink’s Antelope Valley and Ventura lines, as well as Amtrak.

In plain English, an Alternatives Analysis details why the project is needed and identifies reasonable project alternatives based on cost, technical issues and community input. Some key points in the Alternatives Analysis study that we know are of interest to Source readers:

•Staff is planning to evaluate two “build” alternatives in the DEIS/R: light rail transit (LRT) and bus rapid transit (BRT). A streetcar was eliminated because of its lack of community support, speed and capacity.

•The light rail and bus rapid transit alternatives being recommended by staff focus on Van Nuys Boulevard, the Valley’s heaviest north-south transit route and the seventh busiest bus corridor in the Metro system. Buses on Van Nuys carry more than double the ridership of nearby Sepulveda Boulevard. Van Nuys Boulevard also includes several major activity centers as the chart below shows.

Major activity centers in the study area for the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor. Click above to see larger.

Major activity centers in the study area for the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor. Click above to see larger.

•The future transit line is envisioned to run in its own dedicated right-of-way in the center of the street if it’s a light rail line and mostly in the center of the street if it’s BRT. Side and curb-running alignments were removed from further consideration due to the many driveways and turn lanes on Van Nuys Boulevard that would interfere with transit operations.

•One goal of the project is to increase the frequency, speed and reliability of transit in the study area. Bus speeds on Van Nuys Boulevard, in particular, are highly variable because of traffic congestion.

• Another Measure R project that is being coordinated with this project, is the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor. That project’s study area partially overlaps with this one — it is considering ways to improve transit from the northern San Fernando Valley in a north-south corridor that stretches south to Los Angeles International Airport.

•Among options under consideration for the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor are bus rapid transit, rail transit and alternatives that combine BRT or rail with managed toll lanes or even a tolled highway tunnel; here’s a power point. As planning proceeds on both projects, Metro planners will consider ways for them to connect the project.

•It is important to remember that the East San Fernando Valley project has an estimated completion date of 2018 in Metro’s long-range plan while the Sepulveda Pass project has an estimated finish date of 2039. A potential public-private partnership is under study for the Sepulveda Pass project as a way to accelerate its construction.

•About 50 percent of the transit trips that begin in the study area also end in the study area meaning, of course, that roughly half the people boarding transit in the area are headed outside the corridor to trips both elsewhere in the Valley and throughout the entire region.

This map shows where transit-goers are headed in the San Fernando Valley and beyond. Click above to see larger.

This map shows where transit-goers are headed in the San Fernando Valley and beyond. Click above to see larger.

•The study area has a population of nearly 458,000 and is expected to keep growing — one reason that transit travel times are expected to worsen if nothing is done. The Valley as a whole has more than 1.7 million people making it more populous than most other American cities. It’s also interesting that the corridor’s population densities and transit dependency rates are twice that of the LA County average.

•The bus rapid transit and light rail alternatives recommended for further study have costs ranging between $250 million and $2.3 billion. Metro’s long-range plan has $170.1 million earmarked for the project. Cost estimates will continue to be refined and Metro may explore potential cost savings — i.e. opening the project in phases, among others — and other possible sources of funds that will be available.

•The city of L.A. is a co-lead on the project with the city of San Fernando serving as a contributor as Metro will need both jurisdictions help to build the project on city streets.

Stay tuned for public scoping meetings to be held this spring as the first step in the environmental clearance phase.

–Steve Hymon and Dave Sotero

48 replies

  1. I am very excited for this project! But how an unfunded project will get the billions needed to build the rail that the San Fernando Valley needs is a big question, especially since Metro and Project Manager Davis used the ESFVTC meetings to sell Measure J and buses and discouraged rail. I think Metro’s bias away from rail was because as one metro representative put it: “It is likely a bus or nothing, which would you rather have?”
    To that end, I am afraid we will be repeating the mistakes of the orange bus. But as the SFV has been shorted about $2 billion in Measure R funds and has some of the most congested corridors in the country, there is enough reason for the this project, which could be called phase 1 of Sepulveda pass project, to be rail. Because of that, I have hope 😀

  2. One question. Is there are reason why we can’t have more longer buses for BRTs to reduce crowding? That would be a good stop gap to fill in “buses suck because they crowd so quickly” and the “too expensive to build” light rail option.

  3. The first question that needs to be answered before a decision on which alternative to build should be how much money can we get for the project. That answer is likely to be that there would be not more than matching funds from the state and federal government. That equals double the $170.1 mllion that Metro has for the project, or $340 million. The minimum cost for a LRT project is $1.8 billion, so the money available falls far short of whats needed. That leaves BRT at a cost of $250-520 million.

    A light-rail project for the Sepulveda Pass faces the same financial constraints. There is $1 billion set-aside for it and with matching state and federal funding that comes to about $2 billion. Which is only about half of the minimum amount needed to complete a light-rail project.

    The question here should be if BRT can handle the expected ridership on Van Nuys Blvd or on the Sepulveda Pass. Van Nuys Blvd is the 7th busiest bus corridor in the city of Los Angeles, with Wilshire Blvd handling 90,000 bus passengers a day, so the answer is yes, BRT could handle the demand.

  4. Dennis I disagree with you on BRT as the answer to connecting these two corridors. Wilshire Blvd handles that passenger load but is stuck in grid lock. It takes you an 1hour and a half to go from Santa Monica to Downtown LA.( about 14 miles in distance by the way) Which is the reason why the Purple Line Extension is in the works. I understand the financial strain you are talking about and measure has atleast 270 million put away for the project.. Metro seems to never have exactly enough money to pay for construction and as a result Measure R would only do so much. As a result metro takes out Government loans to speed up construction as use the Measure R funds to pay back those loans. We all know what the 405 is like. Rail is the only options and Light rail is the best option because it creates compatibility with the metro rail system. People dislike the Orange line for the reason It can transport a certain about of people that rail can double.

  5. @ Josh R
    CalTrans does not allow for buses longer then what Metro already runs. Metro cannot legally operate longer buses or add longer bike racks.
    @Dennis Hindman
    There is much maligned about believing BRT can handle demand on the Sepulveda Pass. It is one of the most congested corridors in North America and BRT can’t handle demand on the East-West corridor, let alone a North-South corridor that currently sees over 500k people per day pass by. Also, is the ESFTV ridership projections based on the same models that under predicted orange line demand by 12 years? Orange bus was over capacity 7 months after opening. How many months before a Sepulveda Pass BRT is over capacity?
    The only monies for the ESFVTC are left overs from the Orange bus extension so one could conclude, by following the money, that this project was never meant to happen. The no build may still be LACMTA’s preferred option, which would be better than BRT and that option’s detrimental impact to Sepulveda rail.

  6. The ESFV project and 405/Sepulveda pass project must be thought as and build as one continuous rail project and built in segments as the money flows in. Ideally=
    Seg #1 Ventura blvd north to around Arleta or a location where a yard can be built.
    Seg #2 Arleta to Sylmar, but only once the CHRS/Metrolink station location is determined, or build a temporary end point station until the final terminus is truly set .
    Seg# 3. Ventura blvd south the the Expo Line. Make sure a Sunset Blvd/North UCLA station is included, besides the obvious transfer at Purple line/Westwood.
    Seg# 4 Expo to Lax (once the final plan for LAX is settled on), because as it is, still issues with Green and Crenshaw having access to LAX.
    If you build #1 or #2 first, you get the local traffic built up and then once you move on to #3, it will come natural to people to board and continue to points farther south.
    My other suggestion is to build 4 car stations, at least from the Orange Line South to LAX, as I am not sure 3 cars will be enough. 3 or even 2 cars may be enough from Orange North to Sylmar, unless CHRS/Metrolink create transfer volume.

  7. @Josh R
    As AD said, Metro can’t legally run longer buses. The Orange line received an exception because it has a route that is mostly closed to other vehicles.

    I concur with @mark r johnston, the ESVTC needs to be LRT and connect with the Sepulveda/405 project or this will be a SNAFU (as in the original unabbreviated words) for METRO. I think the best place to put a maintenance yard will be Sylmar since it has a large industrial areas convenient to the route and Van Nuys Blvd is mostly residential and commercial west of the 5 Freeway.

    The money obviously can’t be forgotten, but naysayers should remember back 2 months when Measure J had 66.1% of the vote and this project could proceed correctly. When I was at the community forum in October, an aide to a city councilman pointed out that buses are already running at about 4-5 minute intervals with buses stuck behind each other in traffic and the City of LA could not make further changes to traffic lights with out further degrading traffic on Van Nuys or surrounding streets. This begs the question of how much better is a BRT that is running in traffic and shared with other cars. A large part of the cost of the LRT is that it has it own right of way.

    Metro has spent billions on a Purple line extension, Green line, Expo line phase 1 and 2, Crenshaw line and Gold line extensions and an area of the County noted for being densely populated with bad traffic doesn’t deserve a major infrastructure investment is at best unwise.

  8. @mark r johnston
    I would think the first leg of the project would be from the future subway stop on the VA grounds to either or both the Orange Line and the Van Nuys Metrolink station. After that maybe metro can build simultaneously the line going south to LAX and North to the planed terminus for the line.

  9. @Warren

    The Purple line subway stop at the VA in Westwood would not really work because it is Heavy Rail (HRT) and the ESFVTC is being designed as Light Rail (LRT). HRT will also be much more expensive to build and takes up more of the street if ran at grade like in the valley.

    There is also an issue of where to store and maintain the rail cars which I believe Sylmar solves for both the Valley and West LA because of the issues in trying to find a suitable location in either West LA or even most of the SFV.

    While it would be nice to see Metro build a North/South line from the Valley to LAX, I don’t believe Metro even has that on their radar right now. The furthest south I have seen them plan for would the southern terminus for the 405/Sepulveda project.

    50% of passengers on the ESFVTC are expected to travel further south and the ridership on the 405/Sepulveda LRT is forecasted at over 90,000 boardings. I hope Metro doesn’t plan 2 incompatible lines in the valley.

  10. I agree, BRT would be worse than not building (for the time being.) To the MTA and to the fans of BRT – please ride the Orange LIne from Canoga Park to Universal City anytime between 3 and 6 pm. BRT is not an adequate solution for high volume, long distance hauls.

  11. i@n the valley,
    I was referring to a light rail, The 7th St station in DTLA has light and heavy rail lines so the VA station could have the same,. Also, there was a plan released about the line going from Sylmar to LAX. I believe it was released late spring or early summer 2012.

  12. @Jordan

    A bus rapid transit on Van Nuys Blvd would have its own separate bus way, it wouldn’t be stuck in traffic.


    The Orange Line opening day ridership on October 29th, 2005 was 83,000 passengers. Granted, this was not its first day with paid ridership, but it does show how much more it can carry than the 30,000 a day ridership that it now has. Metro’s own estimate for the capacity of the original 14-mile line was 40,000 passengers a day. It never reached a 28,000 per day paid ridership.

    @In the valley

    A BRT line on Van Nuys Blvd would have its own right-of-way just like the Orange Line or a LRT. A BRT or LRT would run down the center of the street.

    @mark r johnston

    If the ESFV and the Sepulveda Pass projects were combined, then Metro wouldn’t begin building either one of them until 2027. That’s due to the Sepulveda Pass project being the last Measure R transit project scheduled for Measure R and the necessity of waiting for the sales tax revenue to come in before a project can begin.

  13. @Dennis Look at the Orange Line where buses are jammed pact and they only are average 34,000 – 35,000 weekday ridership and buses at times are stuck behind each other. If you combine corridors and you gave an estimate about 90,000 riders per weak. Buses even on a dedicated right of way would not be able to handle the capacity. You have a point about combining the projects. It wouldn’t be until 2027, but metro has the ability to speed up the project the the Fast Starts program if the project meets certain criteria by the federal government. Metro then will pay off the loan as money comes in. They have done time and time again. They did it with the Gold and Expo Lines and recent point of reference.

  14. @ Dennis Hiindman
    Unfortunately, most people have similar schedules and therefore, demand on transit, just like on freeways, is separated between peak and off-peak times. Sure the Orange Bus could carry 40K people per day, but not 40K people during rush hour! And that is where your argument is critically flawed.
    The Orange bus exceeded its peak-time capacity less than one year after opening. There is plenty of capacity during owl service, but that is not when transit is most needed. Metro released a report showing that the only way to meet demand along the segment was to turn the orange bus into an orange line.
    Metro knew buses alone couldn’t meet demand in the gridlocked SFV before they built it; they knew it would be slower than the Rapid Line on Ventura; they knew buses do not spur private investment, and they should have known that much of the touted BRT cost savings would not be realized since the huge demand for public transit has caused accelerated wear on the vehicles and roads.
    Is the Orange bus good, yes. Is the Orange bus good enough, no. Will a bus on Van Nuys and through the Sepulveda Pass be good enough, not even close.

  15. Here’s the thing with BRT – the valley already feels ripped off that the orange line isn’t light rail. If you put a 2nd BRT in the valley, you’re going to get a lot more of those “what are our tax dollars going toward this sucks” attitude, which I feel played a part in measure J’s downfall.

    I also don’t know how a light rail would work down auto row through…. my thought was the reason those streets are insanely wide was because car carriers have to park in the middle of the street to unload or something. And wouldn’t the dealerships oppose a light rail line running through where they are trying to sell cars?

    • To all readers:

      While I know this may feel silly or onerous or out-of-touch with the times we live in, please refrain from using “sucks” as an adjective when commenting. I generally delete comments that use this word, but sometimes a few squeak through. We have to set boundaries somewhere and my great preference is to keep the debate here as civil and clean as possible given that it’s a taxpayer-funded website targeted at a wide audience of transit and highway users, among others.

      Thank you for your cooperation and comments,

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  16. @Dennis Hindman

    You are in error, BRT on Van Nuys Blvd would not have it’s own lanes except in a few places and not for very long. Passengers STILL need to be picked up AT THE CURB and Vehicles NEED to make right and left turns.

    With buses already jammed on the street, building a BRT and spending millions is not even a band aid.

  17. @in the valley

    The first bullet point under chart 2-18 states: “The future transit line is envisioned to run in its own dedicated right-of-way in the center of the street if it’s a light rail line and mostly in the center of the street if it’s BRT. Side and curb-running alignments were removed from further consideration due to the many driveways and turn lanes on Van Nuys Boulevard that would interfere with transit operations.”

  18. @AD

    There could be two buses loading passengers at the same time at the North Hollywood station instead of just one as there is now. The first bus could skip several stops to give it some headway from the trailing bus and then turn onto a separated BRT busway on Van Nuys Blvd to continue north. This would increase the capacity of the Orange Line busway and create a faster service to the Red Line subway station from Van Nuys Blvd when compared to having a LRT. This was not considered when calculations were made on expected ridership for a BRT vs LRT on Van Nuys Blvd. I would expect that this more frequent and faster ride to the red line would increase the ridership considerably on a BRT line along Van Nuys Blvd.

    The bus ridership on Van Nuys Blvd is much less per mile south of the Orange Line (including the rapid bus which goes over the Sepulveda Pass). Having a BRT turn off of Van Nuys Blvd and onto the Orange Line busway would create a higher frequency bus service where its most needed on Van Nuys Blvd, which is north of the Orange Line busway.

  19. I attended all but one of the community outreach meetings held by Metro about this project and I found it interesting that almost all of the people who insisted that it had to be light-rail drove to the meetings. Ask a transit dependent person what they want and I bet the answer would not be a certain technology, but better service.

    One person I talked to who attended several of these meetings insisted that the project had to be light-rail because buses pollute. When I pointed out that he drove to all of the meetings, and I rode a bicycle, his reply was that he used to ride a bicycle years ago but stopped.

  20. @Dennis Hindman, Orange capacity is maxed out even with the extended articulated buses that Metro has a permit to operate in 5 minute headways. With buses already serving 2 locations (Warner Center/ Chatsworth). BRT is good, but not enough to meet demand. I know you are only thinking in one study corridors demand to meet demand for time being. But when you look at the whole picture, compatibility truly is what matters in the Metro System. Their is a lot of advocacy to pushing for rail to combine overlapping corridors. If people are going give up their tax dollars for something beneficial, they want the best absolute solution and that is rail.

  21. At one Metro community outreach meeting I was mentioning to a LADOT traffic engineer that most people will tend to pick the most expensive project no matter how much money is available. I said if a subway was one of the alternatives under review, then that would be the overwhelming choice. A person nearby who overheard this said something like “Heck yes my first choice would to build a subway!”

  22. @Collin1000: I agree with you. Some of the lowest approvals for Measure J were in the San Fernando Valley, specifically council district 12 which had 55% approval. I mentioned after the election that Council District 12 had over 72K votes compared to 7K for Beverly Hills. Council District 12 alone could have changed the outcome of Measure J. Beverly Hills could not. We should be giving the SFV more attention if we want future tax increases for transit.

    @Dennis Hindman: Orange line buses run at 4-5 minute headways, the current limit of signal prioritization. The Van Nuys project is not an express bus route to the subway. It is an urban transit line for stops along the corridor and eventually through the Sepulveda Pass to the Westside and the Purple and Expo Lines. The idea of a bus being able to change their routes and not stay constant to their corridors is exactly why the Orange Line is not attributable to a single private investment project. It is also an adulteration of what Metro is trying to accomplish with an interconnected transit system and its suggestion, shows an irrational distaste for rail.

    Bus routes on Canoga, Reseda, Sepulveda, and Ventura; Rail on the Orange Line, and Van Nuys. One mass transit line going East-West and one through each of the bottlenecks (I-5 and I-405) to serve a 1.8 million person (and growing) community, is not unreasonable; it is necessary. Cities far smaller than the SFV have rail lines. What makes Los Angeles so unique that buses can do here what they couldn’t do in other, less dense and less populated cities?

  23. @AD

    Both the on-street rapid bus system and the Orange Line BRT used by Metro is based on the very successful bus system in Curitiba Brazil:

    Bogata Columbia improved upon the Curitiba BRT system and now handles as many passengers per hour as many subway systems:

    There is also a large scale BRT installed in Guangzhou China:

    Also a BRT system in Paris France (notice the room inside around the doors that is very much like any rail system):

    Here’s another StreetsFilm that gives an overall description of BRT:

    The U.S. is way behind the transit used and the way of thinking about what is possible. Trains should only be installed when you need a very, very long bus.

  24. @Dennis Hindman: Not sure the videos are more useful than the FTA and LACMTA reports about capacity, travel times, and private investment. But anecdotal experience did convince our Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky that BRT was sufficient, despite the recommendations presented to the board. I’m sure if you are inclined, you could find videos of Brazil converting their bus lines to rail, of people loading the buses beyond what is legal in California, and of the decreased ridership of BRT as the countries become wealthier and the transit dependent become choice riders. Rule of thumb, rail lines attract about 50% more people because choice riders don’t like buses.

    Would the Caltrans exception that Metro asked for so that they could operate greater than 60ft buses on the orange line count as a “very, very long bus?”

    Rail is better when demand is present. The SFV is extremely congested and the population is growing faster then jobs are being created, so congestion is and will continue to get worse. The Van Nuys/Sepulveda Pass corridor is one the most congested commutes in North America. If this corridor doesn’t warrant high capacity rail, then no corridor does. And I haven’t heard a civil engineer or urban planner say that all rail is bad. So I am confused why you think videos of third world countries’ bus lines is evidence that we don’t need rail over Van Nuys and through the 405?

  25. @Dennis Hindman I am a 22 year old transit dependent person. I have been on the bus since I was in the 6th grade. I ride across the 405 everyday and I see how a mess it is. I’ve dealt with the 2 and 1/2 hour bus rides through the Wilshire Corridor. I’ve rode every line in the Metro system from blue -silver. Just observing your comments. If this line was just for the San Fernando Valley, I would be in agreement with you. However we are talking about everyone and this corridor is bigger than SFV. If you don’t think rail is needed for the Selpulveda Pass, Then you are crazy. I speak for the thousands who travel through the pass daily. It is the only efficient route that connects SFV to the westside. I think we all know what BRT is and we have an example of it in front of us. Just as Light Rail isn’t as successful on other cities. In this case we are talking about a corridor that will possibly stretch 24 miles and while you are listing links on successful BRT systems. On of the people who commented on the films said they were building LRT because one of BRT systems could not handle the capacity. ALL I am saying is don’t build something that turns out to demand a higher capacity. Fix the problem before it happens.

  26. The Sepulveda Pass line *needs* to be rail; bus simply doesn’t have the capacity.

    Most of the people crossing the Sepulveda Pass are going further north than the edge of the mountains. It makes no sense to force them to change to a bus at the edge of the mountains. Therefore the Van Nuys line should *also* be rail.

    It would intercept Metrolink commuters who are headed for Santa Monica, so it would have really huge ridership.

    It’s a core trunk line. It’s stupid to make it a bus line.

    This should be studied as part of the Sepulveda Pass study. That would make it obvious how high the ridership would be — the current numbers are lowballed because the two projects are being viewed separately. Why do we have to fight against a ridiculous and implausible bus option for every single rail line? Buses are suitable for many purposes, but for high-capacity trunk lines, no, no they’re not.

  27. Oh, and Dennis: Curitiba is building a rail line, because BRT was deemed insufficient.

    And Bogota and Curitiba can afford to hire huge numbers of bus drivers very cheaply. Los Angeles can’t.

    BRT is a joke. Even in the place which invented it, it’s not really effective. As AD says, “Bus routes on Canoga, Reseda, Sepulveda, and Ventura; Rail on the Orange Line, and Van Nuys. One mass transit line going East-West and one through each of the bottlenecks (I-5 and I-405) to serve a 1.8 million person (and growing) community, is not unreasonable; it is necessary.”

    Indeed, the US is behind the times on transit. The US motorbus obsession is out of date and we need to get rid of it.

  28. @Dennis Hindman

    Your reporting continues to be in error and it is obvious that you are unwilling to listen to reasonable objections to the BRT.

    But I can refer to the Metro report which on page 63 depicts the BRT RUNNING at the CURB and it further states AND I QUOTE:
    “• Modest improvement of end-to-end transit travel time savings are anticipated with this configuration due to exclusive bus lane operations occurring only during peak-times, resulting in a slight increase in overall
    • Improved journey time would probably be minimal because conflicts would continue to occur with right-turning vehicles, bicyclists, and parking”:

    To be fair, a few pages on it lists a median running BRT but it notes that construction of this mode would be much higher than curbside. Either case would still have buses running with traffic and as I have pointed out before traffic lights, turning vehicles, etc (others here have made valid points) are an impediment, among MANY, with the BRT.

    I find it interesting that you would take a census of the mode of travel that people took to the workshops and what kind of mode that they support but in any case it is irrelevant, they are entitled to their points of view.

  29. Onto other things, I think the only problem metro has done is not plan for the future is allowing the crenshaw line to connect to expo tracks, making the crenshaw/expo terminus above ground. If a sepulveda corridor line just made it to pico blvd with a junction that would allow it to serve the future expo. It would share track with expo to crenshaw. It would say a lot of money and a phase to LAX would already be there. Sure it would take longer but it would serve a bigger population. Combining ESFV, Sepulveda pass and crenshaw corridors. Plus their would be two maintenance facilities on that that could serve the line. One will be built with the crenshaw line and the bergamot facility part of the expo line could serve the line a well. Just throwing out some ideas? What do y’all think?

  30. Well Judging from the AA report Metro did throw a bone to LRT proponents by suggesting to study the cost of phasing the ESFV corridor project.

    I could see that maybe bringing the cost down to 1 billiion dollars since the two most expensive aspects of the project, aside from the trains and Maintenance facility, would be eliminated in the first phase. Namely (1) the portion north of Van Nuys and San Fernando where metro stated in needed to buy property in order to run trains to Symlar Metrolink since there is not enough road capacity to run trains in the existing street configuration. (2) the portion south of the Orange line which would most likely call for grade separation since Metro deemed it unfeasible to give dedicated lanes for BRT on Van Nuys south of the Orange Line

    Filling a gap from 170 million to 1 billion dollars is still an onerous task but it is much less daunting than the 2 billion figure metro had been floating.

    Here is my proposal how Metro could build the line in phases.

    So Phase 1 could run from Pacoima (Van Nuys / San Fernando)
    to the Orange Line with maintenance facility located somewhere in Pacoima.

    Phase 2 Orange Line to Ventura Could be joined with the Sepulveda Pass Corridor Project since they cover the same area in the study

    Phase 3 Pacoima to Sylmar Metrolink could be done later when more funds become available.

  31. Metro should build the Fast Track and Bus lanes through the Sepulveda Pass for now and use the money left over to build the Light Rail Line on Van Nuys Blvd now. In the future when Metro raises the funds to build a rail line through the Sepulveda Pass it should be done.

  32. @AD

    “Rule of thumb, rail lines attract about 50% more people because choice riders don’t like buses.”

    The consultants hired to study the alternatives I would suspect know much more about this than you and their evaluation shows about a 11% difference in ridership between the BRT and LRT alternatives.

    Having one continous route on a Van Nuys BRT to the North Hollywood station of the Orange Line busway would reduce this difference even further by making a faster and more convenient service compared to having to transfer. One engineer from the consulting group at one outreach meeting pointed out to me that this would involve a operational change and so it is not part of the study in terms of expected ridership for a transit project on Van Nuys Blvd.

    The whole argument of whether Metro will build a BRT or LRT is mute if there is not enough money to install a LRT. Considering the amount of money that Metro has for the project, its a stretch to even consider building a BRT. It was obvious from the original title East San Fernando Valley Rapidways Project under Measure R ,and the $70 million set-aside for it, that the original intent was to do minor on-street infrastructure upgrades to the existing bus routes. Due to the need to study several alternatives to fulfill enviornmental requirements, Metro is including BRT and LRT without regard to how much money is available to do these projects. People are getting their hopes up for projects that are way out of the range of the scope of potential funding.

  33. @in the valley

    If you look at the table 6-3 summary above it clearly states under alternative 6B option 1 that the BRT terminates at the Orange Line “allowing buses to proceed south via Van Nuys Blvd and Ventura Blvd in mixed flow traffic” A BRT system does not predominately run in mixed flow traffic. If it did, it would no longer be defined as BRT, it would be some sort of a on-street bus route.

    The BRT alternative would run in mixed flow traffic on San Fernando Rd. Metro determined it was too expensive to separate the buses from traffic along this corridor.


    If a LRT is done in stages with the consideration that about $240 million, or so, would probably be available to complete the first stage, then there would only be enough money to do about 1.5 miles in the first stage if it can be done at the miniumum price. If the costs run towards the maximum price, then they might not be able to complete even 3/4 of a mile in the first stage. That short of a distance is not very useful for transit. Meanwhile, $240 million is almost the miniumum amount needed to complete the whole 12 mile BRT project.

  34. I should have said that at the maximum $2.3 billion estimated price to complete a LRT, the estimated $240 million available to build a first stage might not be enough to complete 1 1/4 of a mile.

  35. @Dennis Hindman

    You are continually factually inaccurate and misleading.

    As obvious as it is that a BRT can run at curbside (per Metro!), you can not acknowledge that or any defects in a BRT.

    I quote Metro’s own report and THEIR bullet points:

    • Peak-hour curbside operation
    • Curbside stops
    • Bike lanes shared with bus
    • Off-peak on-street parking ”

    I want to add a quote from a “Few Good Men” from the great Jack Nicholson and if I could have found it on You Tube maybe I would have added the link. You have tried to besmirch the people that came to the Metro work shops and find deficiencies in any LRT proposal made here. You are the icon of reasonableness.

  36. @in the valley

    Page 132 of the Metro report explains that Van Nuys Blvd from San Fernando Rd to the Orange Line busway would be a dedicated right-of-way for the BRT. That would run down the middle of the street and is the dominant amount of mileage for the project under all the alternative scenerios.

    The BRT bus would run in mixed flow traffic on San Fernando Rd and terminate at where it intersects the Orange Line busway on Van Nuys Blvd. One of the other alternative routes is to go in mixed traffic below the Orange Line busway on Van Nuys Blvd. Or, Metro may choose to instead choose another alternative which would head from Van Nuys Blvd down the Orange Line corridor and terminate at the Orange Line Sepulveda station. The third alternative is to turn south on Sepulveda Blvd along a dedicated right-of-way and terminate on Ventura Blvd.

    • Hi Dennis;

      Please no more comments on this post. You’ve left 11 of them and that’s enough to make your points.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  37. @ Dennis Hindman

    Im well aware of the financial limitation that LRTP has in place for this project but with that said LRT is still and alternative and Metro chose to to keep on studying through the DEIR even after it got rid of the streetcar for being impractical. If the public wants LRT then metro has to study to see if it can some how bridge the gap between the allocated funds and whatever the expected cost for the most cheapest, practical initial segment would be.

    Besides you never know where extra money might come from. I mean Metro Rail ridership has been performing really well as of late, it might free up some Prop A and C funds being used to subsidize the service and redirect it towards construction. Or better yet change the metro rail and Orange Line fare structure to be more like BART with its 60% farebox recovery and that will for sure open up some Prop A and C funds for rail construction.

  38. One thing I’m curious about, what will happen the 761 Rap if BRT is build?? I just realize that if this thing is build, there is still the section Between Foothill Blvd & San Fernando Rd, as well as the section Between Wilshire Blvd & Ventura Blvd. The way I see it, it seems like this is the 761 Rapid running on its own lane if BRT is the final decision. Also, why end the exclusive ROW for BRT at Orange Line?? looking at Apple and Google maps, this thing can easily run curbside from Orange Line to 101 FWY. Still, it’ll be nice to see this again (its Ghost of course):

  39. Steve, I think we have found the next most anticipated opening of a line if it comes to be fruition. Definitely generating a lot of buzz around town and on transit blogs. A lot of people are voicing their opinions and coming up with ideas. We all hope Metro does the right thing here.. @ Dennis Hindman, I give you a lot of credit man for being an advocate for BRT, the more power to you. Most comments I’ve seen on here in a while, probably since Expo. Another hot topic will probably be the Airport connector..

  40. “It currently takes the Orange Line about 42 minutes to run between NoHo and Warner Center and about 52 minutes between NoHo and Chatsworth on direct runs.”

    Wow! Kind of slow. However, the residents along the Orange Line didn’t want rail so they got BRT instead. If Metro doesn’t build a rail line for the ESFV corridor, from what I’ve been reading on this board, the residents will feel like the unwanted step child of the City. However, the cost to build the BRT is affordable for what Metro has budgeted for this route.

  41. @Dave

    The community meeting I attended had similar comments about that line and Foothill Blvd and also Mission College. Metro staff said that they would look at increasing frequency of buses. I remember something being asked about the line over the Sepulveda Pass but I don’t quite remember what was said.

    Metro’s report lists termination of the line at either Van Nuys Blvd or running the line parallel to the Orange line and then then turning south on Sepulveda and ending at the Galleria on Ventura Blvd. It hasn’t been decided.

    Metro has said that they are also trying to coordinate with the 405/Sepulveda pass project, which could effect this project, but when I asked questions about this integration they had no nothing to say.

  42. How much light rail can be built with the $170M? Maybe two stations, a maintenance yard, and about 1 mile of track? Still a better investment than 12 miles of bus

  43. As someone who lives a few yards from a potential future project, I am hoping the outcome is LRT, not just for Van Nuys Boulevard, but for an eventual Sylmar to LAX line that provide a vital link to the Westside.

    Van Nuys Boulevard has no other paralleling Metro Rail or even Transitway line, and being one of the busiest existing bus corridor, should be LRT, whereas the other paralleling corridors: Reseda, Sepulveda, and Lanksershim Boulevards could be BRT.

    I’m sure other sources of funding could be made available for Van Nuys Boulevard no different than how the Crenshaw Boulevard corridor was able to secure additional funding for LRT.